2020 was a doozy, one with circumstances that caused Albertans to pause and take stock of what matters to them the most. It was a scary year, with the first pandemic in a century creeping its way into every pocket of society, affecting hundreds of thousands of lives. Since we were caught off-guard by COVID-19, we find ourselves becoming more and more aware of the importance of planning and preparation. These new year’s insurance resolutions are a few ways you can check to make sure your policies represent your needs, plus improve your coverage and potentially save money at the same time.
1. Go over your driving habits with your provider
The vast majority of Albertans watched with dismay as their auto insurance premiums rose once again this year – even at a time when many are driving far less. An excellent new year’s insurance resolution for all Alberta drivers who are working from home more often is to contact their auto insurance company to see if premiums can be lowered because of lessened commute time.
Some major developments made in the auto insurance industry in Alberta could mean some relief is in sight. Legislation passed in the fall changed the province’s minor injury regulation, which the government says will help reduce costs for insurance companies. Additional injuries were added to the minor injury list, such as sprains, strains, and whiplash-associated disorders. Provided one of those injuries (and others included under the minor injury regulation) does not result in serious impairment, damages payable are capped at $5,000. This greatly reduces the number of expensive lawsuits insurance companies face, resulting in savings that hopefully are passed on to the consumer.
In addition, more usage-based options have become available for Alberta drivers. It will now be easier than ever for insurance companies to gather data regarding drivers’ habits behind the wheel from phone applications or a device placed within the vehicle if they choose to take part in a usage-based program. Usage-based insurance is already available in Alberta, and is also known as “telematics.” Intact Insurance, one of our providers, rolled out its usage-based insurance program last summer. Called the My Driving Discount, drivers may eventually access as much as 25% in saving on their insurance premiums by demonstrating safe, defensive driving behaviours consistently.
Other ways to save on your auto insurance premiums may include:
- Raising your deductible
- Changing payments from monthly to once yearly
- Accessing discounts
- Removing collision insurance (generally not advisable for vehicles worth over $5,000)
2. Review your home insurance policy
If you purchased your home insurance policy some time ago, it’s definitely worth it to take another look. They are unwieldy documents that can be hard to get through, so if you have unanswered questions, that’s what we’re here for. We are proud members of the Independent Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta with decades of experience between us, and are able to provide insight into your coverage your company may not.
In addition to coverage for your buildings, contents/possessions and liability, we often recommend additional coverage for cyber security, privacy and identity protection and sewer back-up. Depending on where you live, flood insurance could be a consideration as well.
Don’t forget that special limits apply to items such as jewelry, sports equipment, and art collections, and normally they are quite low. The average value of wedding and engagement rings can eclipse this amount easily. Check the special limits of your policy and ensure they will cover your prize possessions should something happen to them.
3. Schedule your annual property inventory review
Right after the holidays and early on the new year is a great time to take an inventory of the items you keep inside your home – especially if you were recently gifted (or gifted to yourself) something of value. Your home inventory is a running list of your home’s contents, and should be revisited regularly. Go through and remove the items you have gotten rid of, and add the new ones. Attach records of your purchases and take photos of everything as well. It’s often best to organize your home inventory room by room, and then by types of items. For example: Bedroom> Furniture> 2 pewter bedside lamps> $400.
Your home inventory is an onerous task only if you fail to keep it up. In our experience, people tend to drastically underestimate the value of their possessions on their home insurance, which means policies fall short when accidents happen. Your annual home inventory review should give you a good idea of the total value of your home’s contents, and allow you to check that number against your policy.
4. Improve your health and lower your life insurance premiums
We see life insurance as a necessity. It’s coverage that is an investment in your family’s future, and can greatly offset the costs associated with dying, such as funeral expenses, income or property taxes, unpaid debt, capital gains taxes, and so on.
Not all life insurance policies require a medical exam, but there are many that do. And even if you don’t have to get a check up to sign up, investing in your physical health will not only extend your lifespan and increase your value of life, it can also lower your life insurance premiums. If you have taken the initiative to improve your health, eat healthier, exercise, and quit drinking and/or smoking — depending on your policy, these actions may allow you to access lower life insurance rates.
Smokers can pay as much as double for their life insurance, and, due to increased risk of fire, smoking also often results in higher home insurance premiums. Quitting smoking is always a great new year’s resolution, one that leads to better health and a heavier wallet.
5. Take another look at your life insurance
While you’re checking your life insurance to ensure it is reflective of your current state of health and wellness, take a look at your beneficiaries. Are they still the people they should be? As we age, the more additional coverages we should consider as well. Ask an outside expert such as us at Lane’s if you are unsure. Often, long-term disability coverage is inadequate (or non-existent), and sometimes coverage for partners and spouses can be minimal.
Lane’s Insurance covers Alberta
Lane’s Insurance is here to help you keep your new year’s insurance resolutions for a stronger future and better years to come. We are a leading Alberta-based brokerage dedicated to helping our personal and business insurance clients save on their premiums by getting insurers to bid on your business. Outstanding claims support and personal service is part of our mandate, as well as consistently lobbying for improvements in the industry. Contact us at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton and greater Alberta offices.